14 Apr. 2009
PR# 2009-322

RC South, ANSF leaders hold press conference to discuss regional expansion

KABUL, Afghanistan – Leaders from International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Regional Command South and the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF), which is composed of the Afghan National Army (ANA), the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan Border Police (ABP), held a joint media roundtable on April 12. The roundtable was held in the conference room of the ANSF Operational Coordination Centre Region South (OCCR-S) compound.

The event gave local Afghan and international journalists a opportunity to address ISAF and ANSF leaders about the upcoming expansion of U.S. troop numbers. Other topics included major operations over the last few weeks, and the order to ISAF forces in the south to use the roads like the Afghan people.

While the final allocation of troops is yet to be determined, Major General Mart de Kruif, RC South Commander, said he expects the increase of coalition forces to lead to further insurgent attacks.

“With the increase in the number of troops, we will have the capability to go into places we have never been before which will lead to an increase of incidents,” he explained. “We do expect to greatly reduce the IED [Improvised Explosive Device] threat, making insurgents less capable of terrorizing civilians in the country. At the end of the day, this will lead to a situation where we will see a better security posture to reconstruct and rebuild Afghanistan.”

Regarding a journalist’s concern over possible increases in civilian casualties, De Kruif reiterated a formal directive by the ISAF Commander, General David McKiernan that was provided to the conference. The director stated that ISAF “will immediately investigate all credible allegations of incidents causing civilian casualties.”

“If it is determined ISAF caused those casualties or that damage,” the directive stated, “ISAF will immediately acknowledge that fact. There must be a battle drill in cooperation with Afghan partners.”

In the spirit of partnership with Afghanistan, De Kruif also announced his own directive within RC South; a pledge that use of the roads will once again be returned to Afghan citizens.

“Before, when ISAF used the roads, the Afghans pulled over, or they didn’t use them if there wasn’t enough space,” he said. “That will change and soon become the reverse. We will use the roads only if there is space. Statistics show that escalation of force incidents cause more casualties on the roads than insurgents’ attacks. It will take some time to get used to this new mindset, both for my forces as well as for Afghan users of the roads, but I am convinced that this is the way to go. This order, however, does not deny my soldiers the right of self defence.”

Major General De Kruif concluded the roundtable by stating that training and mentoring of ANSF will also benefit from the upcoming troop expansion with more forces able to complete training at every level.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/